Daily Dots (February 22, 2021): Club or high school volleyball factoids, notions and ideas to impress your friends (or not)
• Last Wednesday, while I was driving around the state of Oregon looking for firewood to keep my ice storm-ravaged, powerless home above freezing, I received a text from a Division I college coach that the COVID-19 NCAA dead period had been extended through May 31. This continues the ban on in-person recruiting activities that began when the pandemic began last March.
A dead period bars a college coach from doing any in-person recruiting or evaluation, on campus or off, during that time. That means no Division I coaches at ANY currently scheduled national qualifier in 2021. That’s good for BallerTV; bad for everyone else.
• During our last Daily Dots column, we introduced you to the three best high school freshmen in the land. Ten others you’ll be hearing a lot from in the coming years are Alex Rothe (MB; Elite); Stella Swenson (setter; Northern Lights); Avery Jackson (OH; Madfrog); Mackenzie Dean (OH; Club Ignit); Nayelis Cabello (setter; Top Select); Carlie Cisneros (OH; Dynasty); Zoe Humphrey (MB; Houston Skyline); Molly Kate Patten(MB; A5); and Brianna Watson (OH; TAV)
• Social media advice:
Your reputation takes time to build and can be ruined with one press of a button. Never let a tweet cost you a $250,000 scholarship.
• Ultimate Performance Volleyball Club, located in Jenks, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa, had an eye-opening performance in 17 Open over the frigid President’s Day Classic in St. Louis. The team may have finished only 17th in the 32-team field, but that’s because it lost out on the three-way 2-1 tiebreaker on the first day. Coached by Justin McCowan, UP went 7-1 for the event, including wins over Rockwood Thunder 17 Elite, Infinity and HPSTL. Its only loss came in three to NKYVC. Libero Trinity Lawlis and MB Taryn Mcintosh were weekend standouts for UP, a six-year-old club started by former USC great Missy McCaw-Frette.
• Bad weather also plagued the Texas President’s Day Invitational in Grapevine. A total of 160 teams were entered, but only 132 played so much as one match. Another 30 teams dropped before the second day. Host TAV won four of the seven age groups. Madfrog won the two youngest divisions and Drive Nation, led by former TAV coach Jason Nicholson, won 16 Open.
• One of my pet peeves in volleyball: the use of the word “politics.” That’s simply code for “My kid’s not getting enough playing time because I think she’s better than her coach does.”
• Mother Lode Volleyball Club is back. The Northern California club was prominent 15 years ago when Lindsy Evans, who went on to play at Santa Clara, was one of the top seniors in the nation. The club went on hiatus for about a decade before starting back up in 2017 under the guidance of director Bethany Jennings. The 17 Maroon team features four from Bret Harte HS and three from Sonora, including 6-0 junior Alexis Herfurth, who had 200 kills, 60 blocks and 60 aces as a sophomore in the fall of 2019.
• Back in Miami Beach in 2009, a precocious freshman playing for Tampa Bay Juniors’ 16s team made an indelible impression on me. An outside hitter, Jordan Burgess was playing middle back on defense and dove for a ball only to ram her hand into her setter’s foot. She broke the fourth metacarpal on her hitting hand and continued playing, both that match and the match that followed against Vision.
“At the time we didn’t know if it was broken and I wanted to win,” Burgess told me this week. “I remember wrapping it up so my hand more or less was like a club, and it was super painful! Pretty sure I had tears for lots of the match.”
“I actually had a very similar thing happen my senior year of high school, too,” Burgess continued. “I was blocking (future men’s Stanford libero) Kyle Dagostino during practice in early August. He tried to tool me and I ended up with a spiral fracture in my right pinky. I didn’t tell our trainers or Coach Dag (Randy Dagostino) that we’d gotten X-rays at an urgent-care place and found out it was broken because I didn’t want him to bench me for my senior season. The first few matches playing with the broken pinky on my hitting hand were also very painful.”
Not only did Burgess, now in medical school at Stanford, play with the break the entire season, she was named Gatorade National Player of the Year!
• Volleyball is a tall person’s sport, which is why I think I’m drawn to those shorter players who defy the odds. My favorite non-defender 5-foot-5 or under has to be Penina Snuka, who starred at Gilbert HS in Arizona and Kahuku HS in Hawaii before a standout career at the University of Arizona, capped by her being named Pac-12 Setter of the Year in 2016. Snuka, the granddaughter of pro wrestling great Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, was mesmerizing to watch with her athleticism and craftiness.
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